Lamb backstrap is a cut that’s prized for its tenderness and delicate lamb flavour. You’ll fall in love with the flavourful Moroccan spice rub we’re using today. It’s the perfect match with backstrap!
Moroccan lamb backstrap
This platter of food you see in this post is my idea of a perfect meal for sharing with family and friends for special occasions.
It’s a bit special, being that lamb backstrap is a tender, lean cut with delicate lamb flavour.
It tastes exotic and sounds exotic (“it’s a ras el hanout spice mix, darling!”). But it’s made with spices I always have.
It’s quick to cook. 4 minutes on each side.
And it looks so inviting when you slice it up then pile it all on a platter on a colourful bed of pearl couscous or traditional couscous!
So if all of this – or some of this – sounds great to you too, I think I’ve got something pretty special for you today. I could eat this all summer long. That Moroccan spice rub with the lamb is just out of this world!!!
You’ll see me cook this on the stove in the recipe video below. I would’ve preferred to BBQ it. But it was raining on video day. So stove it was.
I know, I know, your heart is bleeding for me, having to settle for stove-cooked Moroccan lamb backstrap for lunch! 😂
Ingredients for Moroccan lamb backstrap
You need….drumroll please… lamb backstrap to make this dish!! Ha ha, sorry, couldn’t resist. 😂
Lamb backstrap is also known as eye of loin. It’s a lean cut of meat that is very tender with a delicate lamb flavour. It’s the lamb equivalent of beef tenderloin and pork tenderloin (recipe here!).
Along with lamb cutlets and lamb rack, it’s one of the premium cuts of lamb though of these three, lamb backstrap is usually the best value. Also, at times you will find it at discounted prices here in Sydney. For example, at the time of writing it is on special for A$30/kg at Harris Farms (US$10/lb / £17/kg).
Moroccan spice mix – Ras el hanout
The spice mix used in this Morrocan lamb backstrap is ras el hanout, a spice blend common in North Africa used in many dishes such as chicken tagine and vegetable tagine. And it’s exceptionally great with lamb!
You can buy pre-made blends but homemade is so much better because the balance of flavours can be unpredictable from brand to brand with cheaper ones just downright wrong!
Here’s what you need – pantry staples!
You won’t be left lacking if you are missing a spice (maybe even two). Make up for it by dialling up the ones you have!
How to cook lamb backstrap
Take care to cook gently to ensure you don’t take the lamb past medium rare. It’s a lean cut of meat, so if you do overcook it, it will be dry and tough. Blushing pink is what you want for juicy and tender!
Mix the Moroccan spice mix ingredients together.
Coat backstrap – Rub the backstrap with olive oil then sprinkle with the spice mix. If time permits, marinate for 1 hour to allow the spice flavours to penetrate the meat slightly. If you don’t have time, that’s fine, just cook straight away. The spice mix has so much flavour in it, you’ll still get a good hit with each mouthful!
Cook the lamb for 4 minutes on each side over medium high on the stove or BBQ, or until the core temperature is 59°C/138°F for perfect blushing pink medium rare. This is the internal temperature at which the lamb will be at its juiciest. Because it’s a lean cut, the more you cook it beyond this temperature, the less juicy the meat will be.
Rest the lamb for 3 minutes on a rack. This step is important because it allows the juices to redistribute throughout the fibres of the meat so it will stay in the lamb when you cut it, and eventually end up where you want it – in your mouth. If you skip resting, the meat juices just run out onto the plate when you slice the meat, instead of staying in the meat fibres, so the meat is less juicy to eat.
Rack? You can just plonk the backstrap on a plate, but a rack is better because it prevents the underside sweating and getting wet which means losing some of the spice crust.
Serving – Once rested, slice the lamb into 0.75 – 1 cm / 1/4 – 1/3″ thick slices. Then serve with the yogurt sauce on the side!
What to serve with Moroccan lamb backstrap
The lamb is pictured in this post on a pile of pearl couscous salad which I shared on the weekend with the intention of suggesting it for this lamb. It’s filled with bright flavours from a lemon dressing and a handful of coriander/cilantro and dill. I describe it as Mediterranean flavours but it could just as easily be described as a Middle Eastern salad which can have a similar fresh flavour profile.
Here are a few more sides that I think will go especially well with this lamb:
I’d love to know if you have other ideas for what to serve with this lamb backstrap! I feel like there’s so many possibilities and it would be great to get some inspiration. 🙂 – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
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Moroccan lamb backstrap
- 2 x 250g/8oz lamb backstraps (Note 1)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (rubbing)
- 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (cooking)
Moroccan spice mix (ras el hanout, Note 2):
- 1 1/2 tsp cooking/kosher salt
- 3/4 tsp cumin powder
- 3/4 tsp ground ginger
- 3/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp allspice powder
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/4 tsp coriander powder
- 1/8 tsp clove powder
Yogurt sauce (for serving):
- 3/4 cup Greek yoghurt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil , plus extra swish for drizzling
- 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
- Pinch of sumac or paprika , optional garnish
- Pearl couscous salad (pictured in post)
- Classic couscous
- More side suggestions in post
- Yogurt sauce – Mix ingredients. Refrigerate until required.
- Moroccan spice mix – Mix the spices in a small bowl.
- Coat backstrap – Pat the backstraps dry with a paper towel then rub all over with 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle the spice mix on the lamb backstraps – use it all! Set aside for 1 hour to marinate (if time permits, can skip).
- Cook – Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the lamb backstops for 4 minutes on each side, or until the core temperature is 59°C/138°F.
- Rest – Transfer onto a rack set over a tray (or just a plate) to rest for 3 minutes. Cut into 0.75 – 1 cm / 1/4 – 1/3" thick slices. Serve with yogurt sauce!
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